Skip to main content

Full text of "True Principles of the Art of Violin-playing"

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on Hbrary shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other maiginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we liave taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain fivm automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attributionTht GoogXt "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liabili^ can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http : //books . google . com/| 


j\ Icons 7C 










j\(cons 'fs 




/ - . -■ -^ 9. 










C0FTBI0H9, 1800, B7 




Every violinist, during some period of his career, has 
experienced great difficulty in arriving at systematic 
study — systematic, in the sense of throwing aside all 
work which his own experience has proven fruitless or, 
at best, barren of significant results; systematic, in re- 
ducing all technical difficulties, whether of the bow-ann 
or fingers, to their simplest form, and building on such 
material the structure of his future achievements. In- 
deed, it seldom happens that a very young student dis- 
covers the true road to artistic attainment Often, many 
months, if not years, are lost irrevocably. The pupil 
learns, in a general way, innumerable ht/adea and solos : 
he does not become acquainted with the vital principles 
which underlie all he is attempting to accomplish. He 
tries to reproduce, parrot-like, what his teacher illustrates. 
The why and wherefore are seldom touched upon ; and 
the result is that the reward of a talented student's con- 
scientious work is deferred, and his struggles are un- 
necessarily prolonged. 

The average student spends about two years with a 


teacher of local reputation, only to discover tliat lie has 
chosen the wrong path, and has much to undo and for- 
get. He places himself in the hands of a man who is, 
perhaps, more capable, and, after another year or two of 
earnest study, goes to Berlin, where he is told that he 
has wasted his time, that his energy and zeal have been 
misdirected, and A in particnli lis whole system of 
bowing is fundamentally wrong and must be entirely 

If such a student has the courage to undergo entire 
re^nstmoaon at Berlin, and, after a oonrse „1 seve^l 
years at the Hochschulej wishes to inquire into French 
methods, he will be told at Paris that he has not arrived 
at any true appreciation of the higher art of violin-play- 
ing, and that he must adopt a different course if he hopes 
ever to become an artist in the truest sense of the word. 

What bitter and discouraging experiences for a tal- 
ented and aspiring student ! And the number of such 
disparaged strugglers is legion. Some— the most highly 
gifted and courageous — ^ultimately work out their own 
salvation ; but the great majority, those of lesser talent 
and strength of purpose, fail in their ambitions, and are 
never heard of in the world of art. 

Surely, this is a sad and serious condition of things. 
Every thinking artist must feel that whatever can be 
done to lessen this evil is a step in the right direction. 
Yet very few men of abiUty and practical experience 


have labored in the direction of modifying or remov- 
ing snch difficulties. Every je&£ brings us new etudes, 
new finger-gymnastics, new bowing-exercises— in short, 
new studies that are new only in the sense that they 
appear in a new form and perhaps more attractive garb 
than many similar works with which we have long been 
familiar. And they only add to the bewilderingly long 
list of works already published, accomplishing for the 
student either less or at best no more than the older 
and more familiar publications. 

Occasionally, an artist of experience and reputation 
publishes a theoretical treatise on violin-technics, hoping 
that the ideas he expresses may prove helpful to students 
and young teachers. Of the limited number of such 
publications extant, however, it can hardly be said that 
they contain much, if anything, that is not known to the 
majority of fairly capable performers. And what par- 
ticularly lessens and frequently destroys their value to 
the student is: (1) that the opinions advanced are of 
too personal a nature — ^that is, they are based, not on 
the needs of the many, but are, rather, the fixed ideas 
of one man, and the results of his own peculiar experi- 
ences ; (2) that they encourage that particular " school " 
of violin-playing in which the author received his own 
education, to the extent of excluding the good that 
belongs to and is characteristic of other " schools " and 
other methods ; (3) that they are too theoretical and 


not sufficiently practical; (4) that they abound in ad- 
vice and suggestions regarding the position of the 
body and hands, the only "correct" method of bow- 
ing, and many subjects that are profitable only when 
discussed in the classroom; and, chiefly, that they do 
not more than touch upon (if even that) the fundamen- 
tal truths and principles of vioUn-playing— those princi- 
ples which artists of every " school " accept as the True 
in art, and utilize, sooner or later, according to circum- 
stances, in their own work 

If these objections to works already published are well 
founded (and it is no difficult matter to prove that they 
are based on actual fact), a work which has for its object 
the publication of important jprinciples of the art of vio- 
lin-playing, rather than a repetition, in a new form, of 
JJ^i^U known id.«^ wori of this n. tn^l i» 
hoped, will prove welcome to every earnest student and 

To these introductory remarks the author will add 
only, that the ideas put forth in these pages are drawn 
from no one particular " school," nor from one man's 
teachings. They have been gathered year after year 
and from many sources ; they represent close observation 
and careful analysis of the best qualities in the work 
of leading artists of the day; and they are the results 
of fifteen years' personal experience of a teacher who has 
always been devotedly attached to his calling. 




The cut on page 8 illustrates the position of the left 
thumb as taught by the majority of instructors. The 
thumb is so closely connected mth the development of 
left-hand teehnic that we cannot afford to treat the 
subject lightly, particularly as the advisability of this 
generaUy accepted position is open to serious doubt. 

In accordance with the construction of the human 
hand, conscious effort is required to bring forward the 
thumb so that it should rest at a point between the first 
and second fingers — or more nearly opposite the second 
finger. Now, one of the firmest principles of violin^ 
playing is, tiiat all physical effort should be reduced 
to a minimum, that all natural strength should be 

uld be no waste of 
a position of the 
^ whose Lands are 
!olinist experiment 
)d to hold a yiolin ; 

I a person falls natn- 
Rated on the follow- 

fcher. According to 
rthe hand is required 
thumb is forced to 

Lt by the base of 
; and the result 
comfortable po 

ion increases the 

.J tf 

c P : 
















^ the original loca- 
th the fourth posi- 
•assumed to enable 
J)erly. If the fol- 
py one accustomed 
iill be found that 
[distinctly different 


pressures and positions in order to arrive at the sixth 
position : 

Is not this, in itself, sufficient to arouse suspicion ? ' We 
must never lose sight of the principle that everything (of 
a legitimate nature) should be done to f acilitate'matters. 
If, in the first place, the thumb is forced into a position 
not natural to any human hand, and afterwards com- 
pelled to take an active part in technical work, such a 
system must either be radically wrong or, at best^ an 
unpractical one to adopt. 

On the other hand, if we make the experiment of 
placing the thumb in what I call the natural or normal 
position, it will be found that: (1) it immediately 
ceases to be an impediment to technical fluency ; (2) it 
guides the fingers in the performance of their work; (3) 
it facilitates, and plays an all-important part in porta- 
mervto work and all leaps from lower to upper posi- 
tions. The latter advantage is at once obvious in slow 
tempi; but its truth is more particularly emphasized in 
rapid tempij when little time is allowed the fingers to 
perform the leap. 

Strongly, however, as I advocate the adoption of a 
natural position of the thumb, practical experience has 


proven to me that in many cases it wotdd not be wise to 
attempt acquirement of the same. I do not, for instance, 
advise an experienced violinist who has employed the old 
system for many years, to endeavor to overthrow what is 
deep-rooted and what, by long custom, has grown to be 
a physical condition. The attempt would in many cases 
prove eminently successful ; but the majority would be 
discouraged by temporary weakness of the hand and 
fingers and inability to maintain pure intonation. This 
is not because the suggested change is not fundamentally 
con«ct. but because am, radicd change is invariablT 
attended with serious diiculties. 

When it is a question of teaching beginners either the 
natural or forced position of the thumb, my experience 
has proven that, in every respect, the former has great 
advantages over the latter ; and not to adopt it means 
increasing, at the very outset, the difficulties of all tech* 
nical achievement. 




Doubtless it would be difficult to find any earnest 
student or teacher who is unfamiliar with the " Finger- 
Exercises" by Henry Schradieck. Their usage is so 
wide^ their value so long felt and acknowledged, that 
they require no particular comment in these pages. With- 
out doubting the sincerity, or practical worth, of these 
"Finger-Exercises," I can not help feeling that yet some- 
thing might have been added to this admirable work to 
give it additional value and greater completeness. And 
this something is best explained as follows: 

The average pupil studying Schradieck's "Finger- 
Exercises " recognizes in them nothing more than daily 
gymnastics, the performance of which requires only a 
certain degree of fidelity and conscientiousness to insure 
excellent results. He realizes, in a general way, that 
long and careful study of them will ultimately result in 
the acquirement of a better technic— of additional skill 


and fluency. But there the matter ends. This is not 
the author's fault ; nor is it the fault of the pupil who 
is faithfully endeavoring to profit by the work laid out 
before him. The difficulty is twofold : (1) the teacher 
prescribes these exercises without further comment than 
the injunctions which the author himself presses upon 
the pupil — ^that is, the brief and general directions re- 
garding the raising and lowering of fingers; (2) he per- 
mits " blind " study of these valuable gymnastics, and does 
not wake in the pupil's mind true appreciation of their 
intent, or offer to lay bare their fundamental principles. 
(Just here I can not resist repeating and emphasizing 
that, instead of going over the old, well-beaten 
paths, I propose to strike at the root of violin diffi- 
culties, hoping thereby greatly to assist the pupil in 
avoiding unnecessary labor and unnecessary expenditure 
of time.) 

What Schradieck intended giving to the student- 
world, he has given in a most masterly manner; and it 
will readily be seen that his intention and the present 
one differ in conception and results, and that they do not 
' in any way clash or disagree. 

At the very beginning I might ask, What is tech- 
nic ? The dictionary informs us that it is " the details, 
collectively considered, of mechanical performance." A 
more practical definition is: (1) the utmost precision 
in raising and lowering the fingers ; (2) the tone-results 


of such precision ; (3) the muscular strength necessary 
to carry the player unwearied through ordinary or un- 
common difficidties; and (4) the skill required in 
velocity, peculiar note-successions, and awkward note- 
combiZitiL M-ch more c«. te »id o£ whst redly 
comtttate, .»dmie ; but toe we have its germ, Md tbi 
will suffice to establish fundamental truths. 

The two simplest forms of finger-activity consist in 
the raising and lowering of a finger. The result of such 
finger-action is a triU in its primary form. Have any 
of my readers ever noted the character and quality of a 
fine trill ? If so, they must have discovered that all vio- 
linists who have a really beautiful triU have excellent 
general technic. And they must have observed, also, 
that a trill which lacks quality, accuracy, and brilliancy 
is usually accompanied by an inaccurate or low order of 
general technic. It logically follows, then, that the trill, 
in its very simplest form, is the root of all technical 
accompHshment. And since a beautiful performance of 
the trill requires three essentials to all good technic — 
precision, strength, and agility — ^it should engage our 
most serious thought and attention. 

The inexperienced student must not be led astray. A 
trill is not necessarily the ro^id action of a finger pro- 
ducing a rapid repetition of two tones. It is none the 
less a triU when produced by an extremely slow action 


of the finger. Let us take the following trill for 
demonstration : 

1 ^ r'^r I r'^r -i 

Ordinarily, the pupil is told to let the second finger 
fall "with a heavy blow." To begin with, it is gener- 
ally known that the hand must take no part in the action 
of the finger. But if a hammer-like blow is insisted 
upon, it generally follows that the hand does attempt 
to assist the finger. The reason is very simple — ^the 
muscles employed in such action are undeveloped, and 
the finger lacks facility and experience; the required 
strength does not yet exist to enable a heavy blow 
of the right cha/racter being struck, so the hand invol- 
untarily makes an effort to assist the weak and incapa- 
ble finger. On this ground, the inadvisability of rec- 
ommending a heavy blow must be obvious. 

Precision, great accuracy (not force), is the most es- 
sential requisite of such finger-action. And the student 
can always rely upon the correctness of the following 
suggestion: Finger-action that appears sluggish to the 
eye will invariably prove unsatisfactory to the ear ; and 
the reverse — ^what the eye conceives to be a precise, 
elastic movement of the finger, proves tonally satisfac- 
tory to the ear. 

In withdrawing the finger from the string, the move- 

16 TRtlM P&IlfeiPLES Of TEE 

m&fi\f i§ not so mttcii in ih6 ir^ward m in the ba<^kward 
direction. Eaising the finger high in the air^ without At 
the same time drawing it in a backward direction, wiU 
not provoke muscular development to the required de- 
gree. The correct movement resembles an arm-blow from 
the dioulder. 

The next important step to consider is tenvpo^ and a 
rigid adherence to the same. I advise M. M. j==92^ to 
which tempo the pupil should patiently endeavor to ad- 
here. This plan results in mental and digital repose, 
great finger-precision, and a firm, reUable rhythm. After 
the finger has been raised from the string, it shoidd not 
be permitted to give indication of anticipated action, 
but should remain absolutely quiet until again called 
tipon to act. At first the majority of students do not 
appreciate the difficulty of such control ; but they soon 
discover that it is no easy matter to restrain the fciga-, 
and prevent it from giving notice of its intended action. 
All players who do not learn thus to control their fingers 
find, later on, that in difficulties demanding judgment 
and repose they cease to be master, and their fingers 
stagger or rwn away from tkem. 

So much for mere finger-aetioiL The analysis isj how- 
ever, not yet complete. Though striving to attain great 
precision, the question of tone-quality must also receive 
its full share of consideration. The tone-result is not 
what it should be until the pupil has succeeded in 


producing — ^in addition to clearness and precision— a 
click-like effect when the finger comes in contact with 
the string. When this also is finally accomplished, the 
finger-action (in reality, a trill) is good and correct, and 
the rest depends upon equally good and logical develop- 

Though I do not yet wish to touch upon the 
bowarm, it is necessary to warn the student against 
all bow-accentuation. It usually happens that the 
effort of a finger causes a sympathetic and similar 
movement of the right hand, with the result, that 
every time the finger falls, the bow accentuates the 
tone produced. 

In this chapter it is only yet necessary to say, that 
the selection of such a trill, in such tempo^ embodies 
a weighty principle. All physical effort requires, in 
turn, physical rest and recuperation. The strength ex- 
pended in producing a tone by more or less forceful 
action of the finger must be sufficiently regained to en- 
able a continuance and repetition of the expenditure 
of physical energy. As the heart rests and recuper- 
ates between throbs, so should the finger have its rest 
between the action that has taken place and the action 
that is to follow. It will clearly be seen that this phys- 
ical principle is fully carried out in the study of the 
slow trill. And the fact should not be overlooked, 

that such work materially aids the attainment of pure 



intonation. The foUowing trills should receive daily 
attention : 

Play each one at least four timea. 

1^) H' ^ 


f^ 515 ^ 


A. (g 

'v '^ \. llrT"^: '^ X" i|; ^ -[-^ :|; ^^ ^ \ 


I . big I^P 

i|; b|*" ~'^ : | i 1 ^ If t|{ 

4 by My-' . 

After certainty of fingering and tone has been ac- 
quired, the same kind of work should be done on all 
four strings. At first, however, it is particularly advis- 
able to do all such and similar work on the A-string, 
where the bow-arm is poised in the easiest and most 
comfortable position. 




A VEEY general misconception regarding the develop- 
ment of tone is, that this branch of violin-playing is 
associated with the play of the bow-arm, alone ; and that 
the left hand performs either an insignificant part, or no 
part at all, in the production of that warmth and pu- 
rity of tone which so strongly illustrate the possibilities 
of the instrument. Even in Courvoisier's " Technics of 
Violin Playing " no information is vouchsafed regarding 
tone-development in the chapters (or sections) devoted 
to left-hand technic ; and we find no expression of opin- 
ion thereon until we reach the second half of the book, 
which, as the author indicates, is devoted to " The Right 
Side : Tone-Production," 

I hope that, even with the disadvantage of having 
readers instead of listeners, and the very serious difficulty 
of presenting in cold printer's ink ideas which I have 
never before attempted to elucidate without the aid of an 
instrument— even with such obstacles confronting me at 


the very beginning, I have the hope that every violinist 
capable of grasping what follows will recognize its truth 
and quickly prove its practical wortL 

Leaving entirely out of the question that part which 
the right arm performs in the production of tone, let us 
confine ourselves exclusively to tone-results attained by 
the fingers. I do not, of course, refer to the results of 
mere finger-pressure, the muffled tone following an uneven, 
inaccurate pressure, or the open tone which rewards 
power and certainty of touch. No ; I allude to warmth, 
purity, migmg Quality in tone-production — ^that quality 
which brings the possibilities of the violin so close to 
those of the human voice. 

It is the rule among instructors — even the greatest 
pedagogues — ^to patiently await the development of this 
most attractive and importent quality without making 
special effort to attain satisfactory results. It is sup- 
posed (and does, indeed, very often follow) that gen- 
eral instruction, general development, and intelligent 
observation on the part of the pupil will ultimately 
enable him to draw from his instrument a pure and 
sympathetic tone. But let us suppose that the pupil's 
gift is not of the very highest order, that his natural 
appreciation and conception of tone are such that, aided 
only by general instruction, he can not cultivate a beautiful 
quality of tone, despite intelligence, industry, genuine 
love for music, and, in particular, love for his chosen in- 


stroment. What then? The teacher shrugs his shoul- 
ders, and regrets that nature has not been kinder to 
such a student. 

Now, this is not as it should be. Granted, that the 
power of producing an exceptionally beautiful tone is 
limited to the few — ^to the pecidiarly organized few — ^it 
does not necessarily follow that a satisfactory degree of 
warm and sympathetic expression is denied the less 
talented. Nature, unaided, can not provide the power of 
tone-beauty. If it could, and if the production of a beau- 
tiful tone depended solely upon temperament and musi- 
cal organization, the task of devising a mechanical pro- 
cess of tone-development would prove useless and ab- 
surd. But, happily for the many, this is not so. In 
the analysis of tone can be found guiding principles on 
which an astonishing process of development is possible. 
Let us begin with the two tones B and G : 




I take it for granted that all my readers are familiar 
with the first three, if not first five, positions. It is also 
taken for granted th«rt, in an experiment of this nature, 
the reader will draw the bow lightly, evenly, and in a 
straight line with the bridge. In other words, the bow 
must be drawn correctly, so that the tone produced by it 


will not disturb or destroy the quality produced by the 
fingers. The reader must not lose sight of the fact that 
I have only words with which to demonstrate my mean- 
ing; and that, in so delicate an experiment, he must 
carry out practically the suggestions that follow, and 
criticaUy distinguish between the various results at. 

Again let us adopt the tem^ suggested in the preced- 
ing chapter, M. M. J=92. Ascending from B to G, the 
fourth finger must not come in contact with the string 
until the hand actually arrives at the third position. 
Nor should the fourth finger linger near the string dur- 
ing the operation of passing from the first to the third 
position. The connection between the two tones must 
be made as the himian voice is trained to makeat — not 
in such a manner as to disclose an intermediate tone, 


but quietly, firmly, and accurately, producing only two 
distinguishable tones : 


The fourth finger must descend with elasticity and 
p«o«ion simvaZeoudy wiU. the «mvd of Z ftat 
finger at D. The fourth finger should produce the 



same click-like effect spoken of in the second chapter. 
The tones existing between B and D must be mer^^ed 
into one m«icd ^eot, .Uch, in turn, should be the otly 
connecting-link between B and G. 

The process of descending from G to B involves 
exactly the same principles, with the additional one, that 
the fourth finger should pick the string very sUghtly 
when leaving it — not enough to cause a piazicaio ef- 
fect, but just sufficiently to add brilliancy to the tone. 

Also, it will be found that, ascending, the tone attained 
on G is of a more open character and quality when the 
first finger is lifted from the string directly after the 
action of the fourth finger. 

In order to increase the value of the experiment, it is 
best to entirely avoid vibrato^ since we are not endeavor- 
ing to ascertain how to produce intensity, but are con- 
fining ourselves to warmth and purity of tone. 

Here we have the universally approved method of 
changing position on two slurred tones. The result is 
neither more nor less than the effect known musically as 
portamento! And here we have the very same means 
adopted by all admirable vocalists in the cultivation of 
a beautiful tone. That such a mechanical process really 
embodies the fundamental principles of tone-beauty, is 
easily proven by the following : 

(1) What part does the bow play in the perfor- 
mance of B to G ? None other than causing and sustain- 


ing tone. It vibrates the strings but, being drawn and 
pushed with great lightaess and evenness, without any 
additional pressure or relaxation at any moment, it can 
not possibly produce or affect the warmth and variety 
of ton, which r«dt fcom ekiHul «.d delicate manip-d. , 
tion of the fingers. (2) What will be the tone-results 
if, ascending from B to G, the first finger moves slug- 
gishly and inaccurately, and if the fourth finger does 
not fall with fine precision? Beauty, decision, and 
roundness of tone wiU be impossible ; and this, despite 
the fact that the bow continues to perform its part cor- 
rectly ! 

Let any pupU study conscientiously, for one week, the 
exercises given at the end of this chapter, and he will 
then appreciate what it is possible to accomplish in even 
so short a time. But the work must be done with ex- 
treme care. The student is expected to be keenly criti- 
cal in distinguishing between the various tone-results he 
attains, and to be guided in such studies by the fore- 
going dissection of the portamenio. 

It nearly always happens that, even when the inexpe- 
rienced student is early able to ascend with fairly good 
results, he experiences difficulty in attaining equal results 
descending from G to B. Or the case may be just the 
reverse. But it rarely happens that a student who has 
never given this particular portamento work earnest at- 
tention, can display ^quality in results both ascending 


and descending. Something is always discovered to be 
faulty in the mechanism ; and the difficulty, even when 
diflcovered, does not always yield rapidly to intelligent 
study. In fact, the student will find that his ability in 
this direction fluctuates from hour to hour. It is a study 
requiring great care and perseverance. 

The location of the thumb decides much in porta- 
mento work. If the natural or normal position is adopt- 
ed, the difficulty of all shifts is materially diminished. 
For, starting in the normal position, the thumb can pass 
to any point in an almost direct line. It does not 
have to wriggle itself out of one position into a new 
one, but glides easily along the neck to whichever sta- 
tion it may be summoned. _ 



When it becomes a question of changing both position 
and strinsr (as above), all the foregoins^ principles are 
appHed, ^th one exception, viz.: the fil finger should 
remain on the string until such time as the player intends 
returning to a lower position, when it should immediately 
be raised and held in readiness for action. 

The following exercises should receive at the very 
least fifteen minutes' daily attention. Those in double- 
stopping, requiring a more or less developed general 
technic, are intended only for advanced students. After 



the first difficulties have been fully overcome, similar 
work should be done on all the strings : 


















I" \ ¥ 


















1^ i I f t^ 








1 4 



te g 
















1 2 























The second and third cliapterB contain the raw ma- 
terial, so to speak, from which is constructed substantial 
left-hand technic. I wish, however, to impress upon my 
readers that the following, as well as the preceding, 
suggestions are not offered in the spirit that they form 
the only correct or complete material for the equipment 
of excellent technical ability. Quite the contrary. All 
suggestions, as also the exercises recommended, are in- 
tended as a guide in the right direction — ^to facilitate 
general work, to make clear many technical problems 
not generally understood, and to supply, not new, but 
hitherto differently utilized material for a simple system 
of technical and muscular development. I take it as a 
* matter of fact that all important standard works receive 
the serious attention which they merit. For this book 
does not pretend to be a "violin method," nor is its 
intention that of doing away with any of the good 
works that have been given us by eminent masters. 

In itself, the double trill demands much attention. 

I . 


Considered purely as a trill, it is a valuable as well 
as beautiful accomplisliment, but to the thoughtful 
student it must appeal as having a higher mission 
than that of mere ornament or digital display. (1) It 
must be regarded as the development of the single, or 
simple, trill ; (2) as one of the most powerful mediums 
for correct and healthy muscular growth ; (3) as con- 
taining the fundamental principles of third-scales and all 
passages in thirds. In the single trill axe employed the 
muscles of only one finger ; in the double, not only are 
the muscles of two fingers brought into activity, but they 
are trained to sympathetic cooperation and a beneficial 
increase of exertion. 

Undoubtedly, many works on double-stopping have 
been published which, if studied faithfully and syste- 
matically, would reward the student's industry. Of 
those familiar to most violinists I will mention only the 
comparatively new and admirable " Exercises in Thirds," 
by Wilhelmj. When this remarkable violinist was in 
the zenith of his powers and fame, European critics used 
to be amazed at his prodigious skill in double-stopping — 
in particular, his passage-work in thirds. I remember 
distinctly the powerful impression he made on me in 
Berlin, about eight years ago, — ^and this at a period of 
his career when he was supposed to have lost much of 
that technical skill which at one time was pronounced 


When an artist's work is characteristic—wlien lie dis- 
tinguishes himself in some particular line of work, 
making that special ability obviously superior to his 
other attainments, it is natural that we should wish to 
acquaint ourselves with the method of study, the manner 
of thought, and perhaps the physical advantages which 
have enabled him to arrive at such superiority. So, 
when Wilhelmj's ideas were published in the form of 
"Exercises in Thirds." I was extremely impatient to pos- 
sess myself of a copy. And I found — ? Almost identi- 
cally the very same principles which I have advocated 
during the past twelve years or more. And the employ- 
ment of these principles does not differ materially from 
my own. The chief differences ^ in the arrangement 
and progress of the work, and in the starting^oiTU of 
most of the exercises. For instance : I can not see the 
advantage in beginning third-work in the foUowing 
manner : 


I ' j^.. _ ' I 'le. ^ _ J't' ^ j l 

'_Lx/ fxU fUS rJJJ 

System, Wilhelmj certainly does not ignore ; but the 
practicability of reserving the introduction of the actual 
trill until the fourth section (marked Section 2) is cer- 
tainly questionable. Another peculiar feature of his 
scheme is, that he offers — ^in Section 81A — a very com- 



plete set of double trills as (apparently) the culmination 
of much fragmentary passage-work in thirds ! 

In other words, Wilhelmj's plan seems to be to first 
work out aU the intricate possibilities of the double triU, 
in its connection with scales in thirds, before introducing 
the trill itself in its simplest form. Despite the fact that 
the idea is put forth by an authority, the plan can not be 
considered a logical one. The objection is not to his 
material, but to his ideas of what constitutes a normal 

Experience has convinced me that the simplest, most 
direct, and most beneficial starting-point is 

(1) This is the very simplest reduction of all possibiU- 
ties in third- work ; (2) here the hand and fingers take 
the easiest and most natural position, and are hampered 
by neither sharps nor flats. Following is the daily work 
which I recommend : 

-^ j_fel :|: ^j^ \ ^j^ 'Y ^yi^^ 

In passing from one exercise to another, the change 
must be accomplished without disturbance of any kind. 


After the student has attained accuracy in this work (on 
all the strings), an additionally helpful method consists 
of various rhythmical changes of the same exercises : 

^^ h JTt j J J Ji l , J, / J; ^ 

It will readily be understood that such rhythmical 
changes are calculated to develop strength and velocity. 
Though the tempo remains unchanged, and is, in reality, 
a slow one, additional speed is required of the fingers 
with each new change of rhythm. 

Yet one word of warning. It is an irresistible im- 
pulse with most students to press heavily with the bow 
the moment they are required to play double-stopping of 
any nature whatsoever. Such pressure should carefully 
be avoided in all the exercises given in this book. The 
bow should be drawn firmly, not heavily ; and in most 
cases, the stroke should be a light one. 




The highest authorities of the present day agree that 
too much time is spent laboring through an endless sue 
cession of long-drawn-out et/udea. Indeed, were the 
student required to become intimately acquainted with 
most of the good etvdea written for the violin, it would 
be difficult to measure the course of discipline necessary 
to attain such an end. After the chief standard works 
have received due attention (which, it is to be deplored, 
is not often the case), exercises of any nature, for the 
accomplishment of any technical purpose whatsoever, 
should be based on two principles, viz,: the greatest 
possible brevity, and the certainty that they contain the 
germ of the difficulty which the student is endeavoring 
to eradicate. 

More and more, practical thinkers are giving us brief 
exercises — exercises every one of which is intended to 
accomplish a special good and bring the pupil nearer to 
his goal. This is the tendency of the times ; and it cer- 
tainly is a movement in the right direction. 


After the student has been well grounded in those 
standard works which are peculiarly fitted to his needs, 
he wiU find everywhere, in aU concertos, fantaisies, 
and general solo work, ample material on which to 
construct daily exercises of unquestionable profit. And 
this is applicable to the bow-arm as well as to the 

A particular passage or measure is either annoying 
or exceedingly difficult. What is to be done ? Should 
hours, days, or weeks be devoted to the mastery of this 
particulai* form of difficulty? Certainly not. Suffi- 
cent general good would not result from such a plan 
of study. Nearly always the question is as much a men- 
tal as a physical one — ^frequently more so. The diffi- 
culty requires analysis; and analysis leads logically to 
the questions : (1) Where, and of what nature, is the 
difficulty? (2) by what peculiar construction is it 
caused? (3) how can it be modified and, finally, so 
effectually removed that it will cease to be a difficulty 
in cm/y form in which it may be presented ? 

Too often it is supposed that constant repetition is the 
only or the best road to technical mastery. Certainly 
much repetition is absolutely necessary. But frequently 
the result attained is mastery of only one particular /orm 
of the technical problem, the root of the difficulty re- 
maining unassailed, unconquered. 

In other words, the student's work is too mechanical 



He scrutinizes only the surface, without endeavoring to 
ascertain the cause — why the fingers are feeble, embar- 
rassed, or utterly incapable. His sole object is to make 
easy what is difficult, without thought of the influence 
on his general technic which a more minute examination 
of the question would lead to. Ajod the result is that, 
even after he has triumphed, and the fingers no longer 
encounter obstacles, all the work must again be gone 
over when similar difficulties arise— difficulties having 
the same origin as the one just overcome, and differing 
from it only in minor and unimportant details. In order 
to make my meaning yet clearer, let us take, for instance, 
the following passage from the fiirst movement of the 
Concerto in G minor by Max Bruch : 





-^ — eto. 

AU pupils and many professionals find this passage 
quite awkward; and after giving it (apparently) suf- 
ficient attention at home, they frequently stumble over it 
in a pubUc performance. Now, such a passage contains 
no special difficulties for any fairly capable violinist. It 
is a simply constructed figure on the chord of the dimin- 
ished seventh. Then why are the fingers unwilling or 
unable to execute it ? Simply because the finger-action 
necessitated by the augmented-second step requires par- 


ticTilar and pectdiar exertion of muscles whicli have not 
been trained or sufficiently developed for the perform- 
ance of this particular wort. 

It is not enough that the pupil studies isolated aug- 
mented seconds as they occur in the minor scales or in 
etudes. This interval calls for particular accuracy and 
exertion of the fingers. Therefore, the hand must be so 
strengthened, in such a direction, as to be capable of 
meeting the exertion required by amy form of aug- 
mented-second progression. In particular, slow trills of 
the augmented second should be studied in the lower 
positions, utilizing all possible varieties. After such a 
systematic plan of study has been pursued for a reason- 
able length of time, the pupil's hand will be sufficiently 
strong to meet even more than ordinary demands, and 
his fingers will not" be found lacking in necessary 

The above lesson points to a moral which, if the 
student heeds, will greatly assist him in attaining a high 
order of technical skill. It will serve as a .warning 
never to expend time and energy in devotion to the one 
form of difficulty which he encounters. He will train 
his mind to broader and keener observation. When a 
technical difficulty presents itself, he will not be content 
with the mere physical endeavor to remove that diffir 
culty. He will inquire into the cause^ and, once having 
found it, will trace, step by step, the outward form of 


the teclmical problem to its real source and its simplest 
variety. He wiU construct, for himself, brief exercises 
whose characteristics represent the technical principles 
of aU uncommon or harassing combinations ; and he wUl 
leave minor matters to take care of themselves, devoting 
his time and strength to the maturing of those powers 
which are truly essential to public success and artistic 




PowEEs of self-development are given to the few* 
The student who works out his own salvation, is en- 
dowed with special gifts — ^a high order of musical tal- 
ent, strong personality, indomitable courage, and a na- 
ture which refuses to recognize, or submit to, ordinary 
obstacles. But even such a student should be assisted in 
comprehending the subtleties of the higher art of vio- 
lin-playing. His development would be more certain, 
his life-work more logically laid out before him. And 
those of lesser talent — ^what can they hope to accom- 
plish with the slender aid ordinarily given them ? They 
familiarize themselves with the ordinary mechanism of 
violin-playing and the superficialities of the art. But 
that is all. True, the teacher can not supply talent or in- 
telligence ; but if he himseK is endowed with such gifts, 
he can, if he but will, give the pupil what can not be 
found in all " methods " or in all violin-literature. 

The design of an Shidey however cleverly written or 
clear its purpose, is not always appreciated. The tech- 


nical lesson imparted is not always discerned through 
the covering of a musical form which it assumes under 
the author's cunning development. After all, even very 
talented pupils often require a sign-post to point out 
the road which they should take ; and not then do they 
always see it, if their attention is not particularly di- 
rected to its existence. 

There are many such sign-posts in the technics of violin- 
playing — many that a teacher can construct in the very 
moment when a pupil discloses peculiar weakness or in- 
ability; many that are brought from their recesses by 
circumstances or conditions difficult to recognize outside 
the classroom ; many that would prove helpful to some, 
useless to others. But there are certain guides in tech- 
nical development valuable to all students alike, however 
different the talent, the mind, or the temperament ; and 
while I can not hope fully to cover the ground, I can, at 
least, linger on those questions which best admit of prac- 
tical treatment. 

(1) Lifting the fingers (particularly the first and 
second) on all possible occasions, is a bad but widely 
contracted habit. It is a habit containing elements of 
serious danger to the development of good technic. 
More than this, tone and general finish are fre- 
quently affected thereby, and the pupil fails to 
discover the true cause of blemishes which he has 
faithfully but vainly endeavored to remove. Keeping 


the first and second fingers employed in pressing the 
strings results in much practical good. Firstly, this very 
pressure assists the hand to constancy of position, thus 
facilitating purity of intonation. Secondly, it is accom- 
panied by a certain degree of muscular activity and con- 
sequent muscular development. Thirdly, it assists the 
pressure of another finger, and therefore plays a minor 
^ in tone-productio/ • 

But it is not enough that the lower fingers should re- 
main pressed on the string whenever and as long as this 
seems practical. The first finger, especially, should be 
trained to cover two strings whenever it is physically 
possible to do so. The very nature of the instrument, 
and the intervals in which it is tuned, argue strongly 
for the formation of such a habit. Take the following 
measure, for instance, and note the good results attained 
by sustained pressure of the first finger on the D- and 
A-strings : 

i ^j '' ^Ih an UJ 

id=a t=±=±d bt=±= 

We can not turn to any page of violin-music that does 
not offer conclusive evidence of the value of such a sys- 
tem. I am firmly convinced that every artist has early 
discovered and employed this principle of technic ; but I 
am equally certain that most students are ignorant of its 


practical worthy and that their attention is not called to 
it sufficiently, if attracted to it at all. 

(2) While it is not possible to lay down any set rules 
governing the proper use of the fourth finger and the 
open string, it is, in many instances, perfectly clear that 
the one is correct^ and the other incorrect Special 
study and wide experience will alone enable the student 
to acquire the good judgment so often necessary in 
choosing between the two. It frequently occurs that 
either way is correct, technically and musically. In such 
cases, judgment, good taste, and individuality of the 
player influence the decision. But where it is simply a 
question of what is correct or incorrect, from a technical 
as well as a musical standpoint, a few suggestions can 
be offered, with the certainty of giving assistance. 

Here it would be obviously incorrect to use the open 
string on A. Technically, it would be incorrect to do so 
because the A is immediately followed by a lower note 
(G) ; and were the open string employed, the bow would 
have to pass over to the A-string and immediately back 
again to the D — an entirely unnecessary proceeding, in- 
volving useless exertion. Musically, it would be in poor 
taste, because the character of such a group shoxild not 
be varied for the sake of one note. 


If, however, the measure were as follows, the open 
string would be preferable both for technical and musical 

\ h !Tii[jsi\ 

Here a higher note follows the A, and the bow does 
not return to the D-string. This wiU, of course, be per- 
f ectly clear to even an inexperienced pupiL But let us 
arrange the figure somewhat differently : 

Evidently, experience and good taste must decide such 
a question; for either the fourth finger or the open 
string could be used (on A) without violating musical 
or technical principles. But the choice would most nat- 
uraDy fall to the fourth finger on both A and upper E, 
for, by doing so, excellent tone-balance is attained. Each 
group is thus given its own particular character of tone. 

Now, were the grouping of these two figures again 
changed— that is, were they intended to be played in 
J^ow-a new question Jould arise to influenc^ one's 
decision : 

4 P^^iS-^ 

Here one's sense or knowledge of phrasing would un- 


questionably point to the use of the open string on A. 
The tone-effect produced by the use of the fourth finger 
would certainly be less agreeable, and the intentions of 
phrasing less positive. 

These few illustrations suffice to draw attention to the 
importance of this branch of technic ; but they also dem- 
onstrate the impossibility of being guided by any one 
rule or set of rules for the employment of fourth finger 
and open string. When the player has the choice of 
either, eq^rieni and mnrical LL. wffl aasist in tlie 
decision. That a thorough knowledge of the subject is 
indispensable, can readily be deduced from the fact, that 
interpretation of a phrase may be good or faulty, musical 
or unmusical, according to the player's choice of fourth 
finger or open string. When such a question arises, the 
student should look at it from all points of view in 
order to harmonize technical with musical principles. 

(3) Jacques Dont, the well-known author of many 
valuable etudeSy and a pedagogue of excellent reputa- 
tion, evidently appreciated the necessity for special study 
of grace-notes. His itnidea evidence the importance 
which he attached to this study, and the work of his 
pupils discloses the excellent general results attainable 
from good training in this particular direction. 

The grace-note, as we hear it ordinarily, lacks charm 
and brilliancy. It may be precise and clear-cut, yet not 
sufficiently characteristic, or all that special study can 


make it. It calls for uncommon precision and elasticity 
of touch; and the acquirement of these attributes de- 
pends largely on much and intelligent application. 

Grouped grace-notes require particular attention, inas- 
much as they frequently betray the pupil into a false 
estimate of the natural prominence of upper tones. 

In such a group, for instance, the general tendency is to 
give the upper note too much importance — ^the result of too 
great an expenditure of time and tone. The effect pro- 
duced is almost that of an accent. As a rule, this is occa- 
sioned by awkwardness of the fingers ; but often it is 
the result of miscalculation. Whatever the cause, the 
result is unmusical ; and particular effort should be made 
to overcome such a tendency. 

(4) Fingered octaves — that is, octaves played with 
the 1-3, 2-4 fingers — ^represent certain advantages; but 
serious reasons exist why one should not give them daily 
or systematic study. In the first place, real need for this 
form of technical agility has not yet appeared in the 
serious forms of musical composition for the violin. Por- 
tions of some few isolated virtuoso pieces have been 
written with the obvious intention of enabling the 
player to exhibit prodigious octave ability ; but not one 
of the many serious compositions written in the present 


century requires of the performer that peculiar facility 
possessed in such a high degree by the Belgian artist 
G^sar Thomson. That this branch of technic may be 
greatly developed in the coming century, is a possibility 
which calls for no particular consideration at the present 
time. It is an open question, whether much study in 
this direction is helpful or injurious. I am almost con- 
vinced that, in the majority of cases, systematic study of 
fingered octaves would prove detrimental to a healthy 
growth of general technic. Even when the hand and 
fingers are particularly long, the reqmsite exertion is so 
pronounced that the hand can not maintain a normal po- 
sition. The fingers are compelled to take positions di- 
rectly opposed to the natural (perpendicular) position ; 
and finger-action ceases to be (can not be) that action 
which should be employed in all technical work. And 
-most serious objLon of dl_the digitd contortion 
occasioned by such octave-work undoubtedly affects 
purity ol general intonation. (This may not seem to be 
true of Thomson; but he is an extraordinary technician 
— ^indeed, an exceptional technician among the violinists 
of the present day ; and it would, therefore, hardly be 
fair to consider his achievements in the light of possi- 
bmties for the generaUty of violinists.) In such com- 
positions as the F-sharp minor Concerto by Ernst and 
the Polonaise by Laub, the fingered octaves are such that 
they require, of no good technician, extraordinary effort. 


Admitting that fingered octaves are calculated to 
afitound, and that their effect is a musically agreeable 
one, it i, nev.rthele« qnertionable whether, ^th the 
slight need we have of them, any chance ought be taken 
of injuring general technic. The future may develop 
seemingly impossible technical feats ; but that does not 
now concern us, since we are confining ourselves to a 
discussion of the technic of to-day. 

As a rule, students press the fingers too heavily in aU 
oouve-prog^^iona L. U not Ly. done wiLgly; 
for the effort to play in good tune has much the same 
effect as any special effort of the fingers ; that is, an un- 
conscious tightening of the hand upon the neck, and a 
consequent degree of rigidity. To attain fluency and 
pure intonation in all octave-work, it is necessary that 
the fingers should not cling to the strings with more 
than an ordinary pressure, as a very heavy pressure em- 
barrasses finger-progress and renders the gauging of dis- 
tances on the finger-board exceedingly difficult. All 
ordinary and chromatic octaves should receive daily 
attention ; and it will be found that broken octaves, 

i j. rrprT^ i 

using long, or whole bows, are specially helpful in the 
acquirement of all other forms of octave-playing. 


In the study of chromatic octaves — in rapid tempo^ and 
descending from upper to lower positions — the student 
would do well to play also without the thumb resting 
against the neck ; for, despite a naturally loose thumb, 
the hand may become slightly cramped by the effort. 
(Such thumb-practice should be extended to slow trill- 
work in the first position.) 

(5) One of the subtleties of technic, of whose very 
existence few students have any knowledge, is the 
mental placing of a tone just before employment of the 
finger — more especially in connection with all difficult 
leaps. Students repeatedly fail to reach an objective 
tone. They attribute such failure solely to the lack of 
digital precision, and increase their efforts in a purely 
mechanical direction. The following experiment will, I 
hope, prove the advantage, if not necessity, of mental 
tone-placing : 


Such a progression may cause the average student 
much annoyance. Yet here is no actual technical diffi- 
culty. The condition on which success depends is chiefly 
a mental one. If the notation is changed, we immedi- 
ately find the difficulty diminished, if not entirely re- 
moved — 


(6) A last word in connection with left-hand technic. 
The generality of students — even talented ones — are in- 
clined to shirk daily study of scales and broken chords. 
JEtude and solo work is so much more attractive to them, 
that the impulse to neglect less interesting work is irre- 
sistible; besides which, they deceive themselves into 
believing that, after all, they can get along very well 
without such dry, njonotonous studies! Ah, but the 
awakening often comes too late! Scales and broken 
chords constitute technical food which, if dispensed with, 
means nothing less than depriving the fingers of that 
which is vitally necessary to them. The teacher can not 
always devote time to such work during the lesson-hour; 
and the most that he is often in a position to do is to 
impress upon the pupil the importance of these studies. 
It is the experience of all artists, that scales and broken 
chords are so essential to technical development, that 
devotion to them means healthy progress, neglect of 
them an inaccurate and unreliable technic. 




A THEOBETiOAL work tluit aims at being more than a 
guide, pretending to offer the student such practical 
material for self -development that, in its sufficiency and 
completeness, it diminishes the need of personal instruc- 
tion, is a suspicious, if not utterly useless, book Any 
thing, of however good and practical a nature, that can 
be written concerning the art of violin-playing, must 
necessarily be regarded in the light of theory; and it 
should be accepted as such by the reader, and its worth 
tested by practical experiment. It would be trifling 
with the art, and a mere waste of words, were I to array 
in bewilderingly technical terms the principles of tone- 
production* In this book my whole aim is to discuss 
only those subjects, or branches of subjects, that admit 
of lucid explanation and can be comprehended without 
difficulty. Therefore do I nowhere treat subjects that 
absolutely require practical demonstration and are, for 
that very reason, unfit subjects to be treated theoreti- 


Until good control of right- and left-hand technic has 
been attained, the student's principal tone-effort must be 
in the direction of lightness — ^that breezi7ies8 of tone 
which so delights the musical ear. The bow must always 
be drawn in a line perfectly parallel with the bridge, 
otherwise the vibrations are disturbed, and impurity is 
the inevitable result. There are two excellent reasons 
why the bow should always be inclined toward the 
finger-board. Firstly, playing with the full surface of 
the hair is not advantageous to the production of a pure 
tone ; secondly, the act of inclining the bow toward the 
finger-board keeps the wrist at a normal height, prevents 
it from sinking when the bow is being employed between 
the middle and the point, and facilitates wrist-dexterity 
in all bowings. 

Before the student has acquired good bow-ability, a 
heavy stroke, or anything approaching heavy pressure, 
destroys quality of tone. A powerful tone is the result 
of ability, experience, and temperament. It should be a 
slow, natural, and steady growth. Power unaccompanied 
by purity is mere sound. It can not please even the un^ 
educated ear: the musician, or any sensitive musical 
organization, it offends. But tone that is simply pure in 
quality, of a straight line, and unvarying, can never ap- 
peal to humanity. Musical ideas are intended to eicpress 
human thoughts and emotions, and these can not be 
expressed by tone which, however pure, is changeless. 


The vocabulary of musical expression supplies us with 
certain dynamics — musical signs which, when inter- 
preted vocally or instrumentally, lend character and 
variety to tone, and imbue a musical utterance with 
intelligibility. The student must remember, however, 
that the science of dynamics is not (and, perhaps, can not 
be) so perfect and complete that we can draw on it for 
signs and terms to express every power, gradation, and 
variety of toue necessary to communicate the composer's 
intentions. In a sympathetic and intellectual perfor- 
mance, the vocalist or instrumentalist employs innumer- 
able tints not found in the score. A figure, a phrase, or 
a whole composition, intangible though it may be, sug- 
gests to the imagination and the intellect numberless 
tone-gradations for which we have neither signs nor 
names. Every strongly marked individuality has strong 
individual impressions ; and these impressions find form 
in tone-utterances that give the music a new and a differ- 
ent meaning. 

It is hardly profitable to discuss theoretically the 
details of general dynamics. It seems impossible to sug- 
gest a practical ^eoial course which would cover the 
field with anything Kke profit or satisfaction. The best, 
the most practical, the surest road is that broad experi- 
ence open to every earnest student. Ambition will lead 
him through the vast number, of eAvdes and solos calcu- 
lated either for private study or public performance ; 


and these compositions abound in all varieties of dy- 
namics, thus offering the best and most wholesome food 
for tone-development. 

But I would suggest that much attention be paid the 
cresceTido and decrescemlo. Daily study of the following 
cannot fail to prove beneficial : 

1. p -«= mf =— p 

2. pp -= mf =^ pp 

3. pp^= f ^=-pp 

using first the whole bow, afterwards the lower half 
and the upper half. 

I would also warn young students against the folly (if 
not actual danger) of disregarding expression-marks in 
general. Often it may be a difficult matter to evidence 
faithful effort in all tliat appertains to right- and left-hand 
technic, and, at the same time, endeavor to do justice 
to musical content. But even the very beginner must 
strive to divide his attention between technic and mu- 
sical meaning if he hopes to attain something higher and 
nobler than Lchanical ability. Dynamics Ld for the 
tints and shades, the life-brLh and vitaUty of every 
musical composition. They give strength and energy, 
passion and intellectual fervor, pathos and gladness, to 
a musical utterance. Divested of such elements, music 
would be but a meaningless succession of tones, an art 
without heart, soul, or intelligence. 




Few pupils comprehend, or are assisted in compre- 
hending, the true mission of good bowing. Neither do 
they appreciate how greatly their ultimate attainments 
depend upon broad knowledge of the technics of bow- 
ing, and skilful manipulation of the wrist As a rule, 
they go on, year after year, earnestly striving to attain 
un^loo'^W ab4-. though left-hld technic 
constituted the sum and substance of violin difficulties, 
and represented the real needs of the violinist ! To a 
great degree the bow-arm is left to take care of itself ; 
from which might be erroneously deduced, that the de- 
vdopment of tie right ana iB, in a eert«n aenee, «neon. 
scions development, and the natural outcome of general 
study of the standard solos and kvdes. 

The truth of the matter is, that the right arm plays a 
f ai' more important part in what is truly artistic than the 
left hand. The difficulties of right-hand technic are 
almost limitless. Its subtleties are so many and so be- 
wildering, it is small wonder that most teachers make no 


attempt at logical explanation when a pupil, who is 
unable to get at the root of a difficulty, asks for a dear 
method of procedure. 

I have always found that even much excellent ma- 
terial offe«d L proves i-suffidentty helpful to the 
many. Were the study of wrist and forearm develop- 
ment one that the student of average intelligence could 
grasp, both mentally and physically, teacher and pupil 
could await ultimate results with less fear of disappoint- 
ment As it ia, the acquirement of certain bowings 
depends chiefly upon physical conditions -upon the 
awakening of the wrist, so to speak^ to a certain feeling, 
which, once physically determined, enables the player to 
control what before seemed beyond the hope of a-physical 
possibiHty. The nearer we approach a comprehensible 
definition of such wrist-feeling, the greater the assistance 
we are enabled to render. It matters little what means 
are employed, so that they be legitimate, and so that the 
idea to be communicated is clearly impressed upon the 
brain or the imagination, and thence sympathetically 
conveyed to the point of activity — ^the wrist. 

The Legaio 

However .«..^y he the ™Hetie,«>dco.h;„. 

of bowings possible in violin-playing, there are two strokes 
which form, or should be made to form, the nucleus of 


all varieties — ^two atrokes of opposite cliaracter and tone- 
effect, and to which most divergent bowings can trace 
their origin, viz., the legato and the etaccato. The legato 
stroke, whether it be a slow or a rapid one, is necessarily 
of a placid, tranquil character. Neither in the stroke 
itself nor in the change of bow (from down- to up-stroke, 
or the reverse) should any appreciable cessation of tone 
occur. The strongest stress must be laid on wrist and 
forearm work. The upper arm should never be em- 
ployed in the actrml performance of any Mnd of bowing; 
that is, the upper arm should never take an active part, 
and must not be allowed to assist either the forearm or 
the wrist It must remain passive, performing only such 
movements as are rendered physically necessary by the 
activity of the remaining portions of the arm. I do not 
mean to imply that if the upper arm is employed as a 
direct agent to cany out ce^n intentions of bowing, 
good results will be impossible. Such theories are being 
exploded every day by excellent violinists who, through 
self-neglect or inattention of their instructors, have ac- 
quired the bad habit of playing with the upper arm, and, 
despite the seriousness of suchahabit, display admirable 
bow-ability. It must be remembered, however, that such 
violinists have labored under many umiecessaiy difficul- 
ties; and it cannot be doubted that their studies would 
have been greatly facilitated had proper attention been 
paid to the wrist and forearm, always with the view of 


making these members the sole agents in bowings of 
every conceivable variety. 

The Ugaio stroke should be studied as follows : full 
length of the bow, the upper half, the lower half, and 
the middle third. The change of bow should be accom- 
plished by a barely perceptible movement of the wrist 
in that direction in which the player intends to carry the 
bow. After this wrist-movement has taken place, then, 
and then only, should the forearm accompany the wrist 
in its downward or upward passage. In the down- 
stroke, the upper arm necessarily accompanies the fore- 
arm and wrist until the middle of the bow is reached ; 
but at this point all motion of the upper arm must cease 
altogether, otherwise it would take part in work which 
properly belongs to the wrist and forearm. The same 
principle applies to the up-stroke, with this difference : 
the upper arm does not begin to move until the player 
arrives at, or about, the middle of the bow. Before that 
point has been reached, it is not only unnecessary to em- 
ploy the upper arm, but also harmful to purity of tone- 
production and an obstacle to agility of the wrist. 

Now, this dividing-point in the work of the arm often 
encourages the belief that, when the upper arm ceases to 
move, a special (second) effort of the forearm is neces- 
sary to continue the stroke throughout the full length of 
the bow. Such a special or separate movement of the 
forearm would immediately destroy continuity of tone. 


Furthermore, one of the most important principles of 
good bowing is the cultivation of such looseness of the 
elbow, that the forearm is enabled to continue the stroke 
uninterruptedly throughout the full length of the bow. 
One of the simplest and most practical methods of elim- 
inating the difficulty of passing the middle of the bow, 
is to do much legato work in the middle third, making 
no attempt at rapidity of stroke until conscious of abso- 
lute looseness of the elbow. 

The Staccato 

The staccato stroke is diametrically opposed to the 
legato. It is short (generally), firm, and very energetic. 
The bow must be drawn rapidly, and the very energy of 
the wrist and forearm causes a pause between the 
strokes. The pressure which gives vigor and rapidity to 
the tone mvst not he continued throughout the entire 
stroke. On the contrary, every effort must be made, to 
relax this pressure ; for, if continued, the tone is stifled 
and its termination is always impure — resembling a 

After the first difficulties of the staccato have dimin- 
ished, it is not only advisable, but indispensable to arm- 
development, to study the same character of stroke with 
a greater portion of the bow. (Early attempts should 
be confined to the upper eighth of the bow. This 


stroke, when particularly forceful and accentuated, is 
termed, also, the Ma/rtele^ A systematic plan of study 
would be: the upper and lower third, the upper and 
lower half, and so on, until it is possible to draw and 
push the bow throughout its entire length, maintaining, 
even with the full bow, the same quality and character 
of tone attained at the point. 

Some pupils have great dijQ&culty in restraining them- 
selves. Often, the cause is mental, sometimes it is 
purely physical nervousness. For such, whether the 
cause be mental or physical, or both, the employment of 
a metronome may prove helpful ; for one of the essential 
features of good staccato work is the strictest adherence 
to rhythmical accuracy. But I do not admise the use of 
the metronome; and if it can possibly be dispensed with, 
so much the better. 

In the beginning, the proper field for this and every 
other bowing is the A-string, for there the arm is in its 
most natural position. But after a reasonable degree of 
success, it is necessary to exercise the wrist on the four 
strings. One of the most helpful studies is the follow- 
ing arrangement of a simple scale : 

•^~°"' -r^jy| jy l»lJ*j^ ^ 


:5a etc. 

• m 

The difficulties of all early attempts should not be in- 
creased by application of the stroke to an Mtide which. 


in itself, may be difficult for the left hand, thus divert- 
ing attention from the right. But the intelligent student 
can always decide for himself just when it is safe to 
venture the application of a newly acquired stroke to 
some standard Stude. In all violin-literature, nothing 
more practical can be found than the weU-known bow- 
etudea by E^reutzer and Fiorillo. 

Legato SbroTces Detached in One Bow 

This apparently simple bowing seems to cause stu- 
dents no end of trouble. Not only the execution of it 
presents problems difficult to solve; but the average 
student seems unable to formulate mentally the quality 
and character of tone which he is called upon to produce. 
The wrist performs a very delicate side-movement with 
each detached note, and the forearm mu%t continue to 
draw or push the bow uninfluenced by this separate 
movement of the wrist. When close to, or near, the 
" frog " (nut), such wrist-movement not only detaches one 
tone from another, but it should also assist in rais- 
ing the bow slightly from the string. The nearer the 
player approaches the point of the bow, the less capable 
he is of raising it from the string, and the difficulty of 
nice detachment is proportibnally increased. The fol- 
lowing exercise, or something similar, will develop that 



wrist-feeling wHch enables the performance of this 
beautiful and graceful bowing: 


Now, as to the character and quality of tone. If the 
student would but listen to the good vocalist as he or 
she repeats a tone several times, articulating a brief 
syllable as a means of separating the tones, I am con- 
vinced that a just appreciation of the character and qual- 
ity of such detached Ugaio tones will be the almost 
immediate result For example: 




The pupil falls easily into the error of overestimating 
the pause occasioned by this detachment of bowing. 
The pause is appreciable, but hardly more than that. 
If it is remembered that, in the foregoing illustration, 
the singer does not take breath with each repetition of the 
syllable " la," a clear idea can be formed of the character 
which marks the beginning and termination of each tone, 
as well as the practically indescribable brevity of the 
pause that separates the several articulations. 


The SdUato 

The mUaJto stroke is executed at, or about, tlie middle 
of the bow. The bow is held at a short distance above 
the string and allowed to fall; but the forearm must 
continuously be drawn or pushed very slowly and evenly, 
and must not halt with each rebound of the bow. In 
the down-stroke, the wrist is not employed to produce 
the rebound. The impetus given by the first drop of 
the bow will, after diligent study, suffice to cause the 
bow, of itself, again to leap from the string. In the up- 
stroke, a separate movement of the wrist is required for 
each detached note. This constitutes the only real differ- 
ence between the saltato and the ricochet. In the latter, 
both up- and down-bow, the wrist takes no active part. 
The bow is allowed to fall on the string, and the fore- 
arm is continually employed (after the manner of the 
legcUo stroke) during the rapidly rebounding strokes of 
the bow. Good control of the aaltato stroke can come 
only with experience ; but if the pupil will experiment 
with the following measures, he will soon find that this 
effective bowing is not so difficult as at first appears to 
be the case : 


The Arpeggio 

The principles of acquiring the mUcOo should be ap- 
pUed to arpeggio bowing. But it is best to accentuate 
the first note of each group, both in the down- and the 
up-bow, in order to get sufficient impetus to cause the 
bow to bound over the different strings. Such accentua- 
tions, however, should not be continued after the pupil 
has acquired this steoke. No special effort of the wist 
is required. The bow should be held rather fiimly, and 
the lie »n ie nece^aril, »>ti.e » the bow pal to 
and fro over the strings.* The last etvde by Fiorillo 
offers excellent material for the development of a good 
arpeggio stroke. 

The SpioGoto 

The solid, or heavy, spiocato is performed at, or just 
below, the middle of the bow. When the tempo is not 
very rapid, it is always advisable to employ this portion 
of the bow ; but in very rapid tempiy and particularly 
when solidity of tone is less desirable than brilliancy, 
ypiocato should be played just above the middle, or be- 
tween the middle and the upper third of the bow. If 
^■^■^^■""■^"^■■"^~  ■^""^^^^^^^^^^■"■"■■"^^^^■^^^^^■^^^^"^■^^■^"^■^^■— "^^^^^^— ■^^— "^i— — ^^— •— i^^^.^^^^^^^» 

* Such employment of the upper acm may seem to contradict pre- 
vious statements. But the very beginner will understand that it is a 
physical impossibility to carry the bow back and forth over three or 
four strings without using the whole arm. 


the bow does not bound effectively and with proper 
quality of tone, the cause should invariably be looked 
for in the wrist ; for the wrist only should be employed 
in all spicoato work. When, by the usual methods, a 
pupil seems unable to acquire the spiccato stroke, I can 
generally rely on a method seemingly opposed to spiecato 
work, but which accomplishes good results when every 
other experiment fails. That is, I encourage much and 
careful legato bowing (short strokes) at the middle of 
the bow I After all, the practical good of such a method 
is easily understood. Spicoato requires easy action of 
a, wit in both direeta^nplei with . L^ Hnd 
and degree of forcefulness which will cause the bow to 
bound and rebound. Now, legato work is admirably 
adapted for such free wrist-action. Once acquired, the^ 
difficulty of adding to it a certain energy of stroke is 
greatly diminished. In such legato work, both forearm 
and upper arm must remain quiet, all activity being con- 
fined to the wrist. 

The Whipping Bow. 

The tenth et/ude by Fiorillo introduces a very effective 
^ stroke, which, for want of a better term, is generally 
called whipping bow : 

iffi ^ ^ ^ 


It is executed at the point. The bow is raised from 
the string by a quick movement of the wrist. Descend- 
ing, it is made to slap the string with much energy, but 
must, simultaneously, be pushed forward by the forearm. 
This action of the forearm causes the tone, which has 
been begun with force, to terminate with a legato-like 
character. While, for practical reasons, all the upper 
notes are marked staooatOy they attain a mixed character 
through being first vigorously attacked, and then imme- 
diately pushed along. This bowing should be studied 
very slowly, and, in the beginning, with great delibera- 
tion ; for some risk always attends a forceful blow at the 
point of the bow. 

Staccato MoMjkd hy Tempo 

The staccato mark frequently misleads even advanced 
students. It is the rule among composers to disregard 
tempo when they intend that the notes of a figure or a 
phrase should be detached in one bow; that is, they 
employ the staccato sign in an adagio^ just as they 
would in an allegro. The character and tempo of a 
composition determine the degree of crispness with 
which the staccato should be played. Naturally, in all 
rapid movements, the staccato sign should be interpreted 
according to our conception of the staccato character; 


but in all slow movements, and in many an dJUegretto^ 
the player must modify the sharpness and energy of the 
stroke. In adagio movements it frequently happens 
that a phrase marked staccato must be played as though 
written detached-^ato. 

AnticipcUed SbroTce 

The following illustration serves to warn the pupil 
against an error committed by nearly all players not far 
advanced in the art. But it will probably also prove 
helpful to many who, though possessed of good general 
ability, do not subject their work to very careful criti- 

[j, mi ,w\ I 

In all figures composed of slurred and staccato notes, 
the impulse to accentuate the last of the slurred notes 
preceding a staccaio stroke seems irresistible. Such 
accentuation is not intentional Nearly always it is 
caused by what the eye anticipates (the staccato note), 
not by a defect or weakness of bowing. The result of 
such eye-anticipation is a nervous eagerness of the wrist 
to perform the coming staccato note; and the player 
seems unable to control the pure legato character of a 


slurred note immediately preceding a note requiring 

an energetic stroke. The musical (or unmusical) eflPect 

is as follows : 

> > 

^j , rrn .rru , 

Broad Bcming 

Not only in the United States, but also in many 
European music-schools, pupils are permitted to form 
the habit of utilizing small portions of the bow on all 
possible occasions — a habit which necessarily results 
to a cramped, ™digni«ed style, and, once fomL, is e.- 
ceedingly difficult to overcome. Of course, it is not 
always possible or advisable to employ the full length 
of the bow ; but on general principles the pupil should 
early accustom himself to fuU-length strokes, for this 
means acquiring control of every inch of the bow, and 
the development of breadth and dignity of style. 





About us, everywhere, are musicians, critics, and phi- 
listines, who overestimate the true possibilities of the 
man of temperament. They regard his achievements al- 
most in the light of involuntary effort, and greatly un- 
derestimate the possibilities of the technics of expression. 
Now, I am not going to attempt to prove, in this chapter, 
how it is possible, merely by means of mechanism, to 
achieve results equal to those which flow with spontane- 
ity from the man of fine mind and feeling; but I do 
wish to demonstrate convincingly, that command of the 
technics or mechanism of expression is a prime factor 
in the work of the most gifted violinists. Temperament, 
poetry, imagination — ^theae are qualities quickly recog- 
nized and appreciated ; but the knowledge which guides 
and often controls these qualities is generally lost sight 
of, and is not included in what is so loosely termed 
" soul," or " the divine spark." 

In the first place, let us look into the question of tone- 
character just sufficiently to learn the mechanical possi- 
bilities of tone-variatiozL Let us deal with it, not as an 


element whicli necessarily accompanies mood or feeling, 
but as a quality projected by thought and physical efiEort. 
I select such tone-characters aa predominate in musical 
utterance : 

(1) The " robust," the " manly " tone. It consists of 
power (I do not say purity, because that should always ji 
be understood in all questions of tone-production), ab- 
solute freedom from any and all those devices (or vices) 
which merit the term affectation, great breadth of bow- 
ing, and strong, rhythmical movements of the wrist and 

(2) The " romantic " tone. A character of tone which 
too often is confounded with sentimentalism and such 
results of bowing and fingering as are distasteful to a 
musician of fine feeling and intelligence. The romantic 
tone proper alternates unmethodically between light 
and shade, seldom attains f orcef ulness, depends greatly 
upon the fingering employed, and is materially assisted 
by portamento and a slow or rapid vibrato. 

(3) The "tranquil" tone. It receives its character 
chiefly from quiet, even bowing, finger-accuracy, and 
even, though not strongly marked, rhythm. 

(4) The " energetic " tone is the result of vigorous bow- 
ing, energy and elasticity of fingering, accent, and rhyth- 
mical precision. It is closely allied to the " robust " tone. 

(5) The "singing" tone depends chiefly upon the 
greatest freedom of bowing, carefully reconciling pres- 


sure with rapidity of stroke, and upon fine vibrato and 

(6) The " passionate " tone is a combination of the ro- 
bust, the romantic, the energetic, and the singing tone. 

Thus it wiU be seen that, apart from originaHty and 
temperament, it is posdble to measure tone-results by 
certain rules of mechanism. But I must repeat, that I 
am not attempting to prove how qualities that can be 
acquired by a process of finger and arm-development can 
possibly equal those that nature haa bestowed and in- 
dustry refined and perfected. I simply wish ^to be help- 
ful to many needlessly despairing students, who, be- 
cause their gifts are not of the highest order, feel that 
they are debarred from acquiring to any degree that 
which to them seems in no wise dependent upon knowl- 
edge and perseverance. For many reasons I have 
selected for experiment the Adagio from the Ninth Con- 
certo by Spohr. The original bowing and fingering are 
taken from the edition of Spohr's "School" published 
in Vienna, by Haslinger. I must ask the reader to note 
carefully this bowing and fingering, and, if possible, to 
play the excerpts selected, first according to the original 
intention^ afterward following the suggestions in paren- 
theses, and comparing the two : 




The third measure at once arrests attention. What en- 
tirely different results are attainable in tone-color, ex- 
pression, and interpretation of idea ! In the first ver- 
sion, the fourth finger flageolet on D leaves the tone 
open, with little possibility of adding to it anything in 
quality or character, and renders the progression from 
D-C an almost straight line of tone. The second version 
changes the character of tone, imbuing the phrase with 
romantic color such as, with the first fingering, it would 
be impossible to indicate even vaguely. In the sixth 
measure, the employment of the second finger instead of 
the third does away with the change of position between 
it and the preceding note (F), opening an opportunity, 
in the measure following, for variety on the three eighth- 

C3) (4) 

(3) (2) 


Imagine the stilted, ungraceful effect, were the figures 
of the third measure played in strict time I To give 
them any musical worth, they must be regarded (as they 
were intended) as mere ornamental work requiring 
ruhato treatment. They lead partly to the upper E, but 
ultimately, and fully, to the B flat in the fourth meas- 
ure, on which note repose is suggested even by its time- 
value. In the fifth measure, the second finger on C gives 
new quality to the portamento between F and C ; in the 
following measure, greater breadth is attained by em- 
ploying the up-stroke on D, while it does not mar 
Spohr's phrasing intentions; and the third finger on 
both G and D (sixth to seventh measure) enables greater 
tone- variety on both notes, but adds particular warmth 
and agreeableness to the D. 

!? (8) (8) a_ _ _ _ 

smiq — a=r / 4 ^fn, rrrrrrr.. ^ (V) '\ 

A powerful tone, accompanied by intensity and pas- 
donate ezpreaaioB, 4 the obvicis intention of the Lt 
measure. The use of the fourth finger on C, again the 
fourth (flageolet) on D, diminishes, if it does not destroy, 
the possibiHty of massing-up tone. At the very least, 
greater depth and power can be attained by the finger- 
ing suggested. In the third measure, tendency to a 
cramped style is effectually removed by carefully em- 



ploying the up-stroke. This can not affect the phrasing 
if the change of stroke is accomplished with precision 
and delicacy : 

The fourth finger, in this particular position of the 
hand, when singing quality and increase of tone are de- 
manded, hardly coincides with the technic of to-day; 
nor does it so fuUy accomplish Spohr's intention as the 
third finger, which is capable of a freer vibrato. Also, 
the third finger on A thus avoids the necessity of using 
the same finger twice in succession. 

(2) <8) (1) 

To shift position from F sharp to G, and then imme- 
diately from B flat to E, not only creates a feeling of 
uncertainty, but positively disturbs the technical and 
musical flow of the phrase. 



This measure, more than any we have yet discussed, 
evidences tone-possibilities as the result of choice of 
fingering. The dmdnumdo indicated can certainly be 
well played in the first position, passing back and forth 
on the A- and E-strings ; but how is it possible to lend 
such a phrase the tenderness and delicacy of expression 
suggested by the notes themselves, if we do not adopt 
either the fingering which I suggest, or something very 
similar ? 

(1) dtm. 

The foregoing holds good of this measure. But in 
addition to considerations of tone-character and ex- 
pression, the original fingering is hardly practical in the 
light of modem technic. Such fingering may have been 
admirably adapted to the hand of a Spohr; but the 
average violinist nowadays would instinctively rebel 
against it 

•^ i i i 

(2) dkn. 

The use of the third finger three times in succession, 
and in a cantilena movement, impresses one very pecu- 



liarly. It results in a portameffUo effect of such character 
as one would little expect from an artist of Spohr's gen- 
eral tendencies. 

The use of the second finger on E is clearly the restdt 
of embarrassment of position. From a technical point 
of view, the third position on D is inevitable. But this 
position can be reached more practically, and with desir- 
able portammtOj on the longer tones, G and F. 

8 14 

Again, we have a combination of undesirable results, 
technically and tonally, through the use of the flageolet 
on D. To such a flageolet, nothing in the way of tone- 
variety can be added, except quantity ; and it must be 
evident to every reader, that the employment of the third 
finger adds charm and depth of tone, and renders the 
subsequent use of the third finger (on C) wholly imprac- 
tical and unnecessary. 

The foregoing demonstration is not offered in the 
spirit of suggesting the best possible choice of technical 
means for this famous Adoffio^ or the most tasteful 


methods of interpretmg it I have chosen this means 
of illustrating the ideas set forth in the beginning of 
this chapter, because it appealed to me strongly as a 
practical method of elucidating the possibilities of 
mechanical expression, as well as an excellent oppor- 
tunity of offering the thoughtful student wholesome food 
for reflection and improvement. 

Numberless students are eager for the truth on im- 
portant questions which, for one reason or another, have 
long been shunned. If the contents and general scheme 
of this book arouse opposition in some (particular) 
quarters, I feel convinced that such feeling will be more 
than counterbalanced by the impression it will create on 
the many. And I hope that its worth will be proven by 
the practical aid it will render all those who to-day are 
struggHng with the problems of violin-technics. 




MT 260 .L523 .T8 1901 C.I 

TnM prIndplM of tlw art of 

3 6105 042 340 203